Home Purchase Plans Have Not Significantly Changed Because of COVID-19

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According to NAHB’s latest Housing Trends Report, the share of Americans who are considering the purchase of a home in the next 12 months was 11% in the second quarter of 2020, essentially flat when compared to the same quarter in 2019 (12%). In light of the COVID-19 crisis, this finding indicates that the overall propensity of Americans to want to buy a home has not been impacted by the pandemic. Similarly, the share of these prospective buyers who are first-time buyers is about the same in the second quarter of 2020 (59%) as it was a year earlier (58%).

The timing of the data collection for this report (June 16-28) is important, as results need to be interpreted in the larger context of the US economy and the trajectory of new case counts at the time. In June, the labor market showed signs of recovery, gaining 4.8 million jobs and a lower unemployment rate. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate continued to fall, reaching 3.13% by the last week of the month. The number of COVID cases nationally were stable through the first half of the month, only beginning their ascent around June 15. For these reasons, we assess that responses in this quarter’s report reflect a period when workers were returning to their jobs, mortgage rates looked increasingly attractive, and the pace of new cases had only recently started to regain speed.

In the second quarter of 2020, Millennials are the generation most likely to want to buy a home (19%), even slightly higher than a year earlier (17%). Boomers, on the other hand, are the least likely, with the share planning a home purchase falling from 7% to 5%.  Across regions, the share of respondents who are prospective home buyers is unchanged in the Northeast (10%) and South (12%), essentially flat in the West (13%), and just slightly lower in the Midwest (down from 11% to 9%).

Eighty-four percent of Gen Z’s planning to buy a home are first-timers, compared to 68% of Millennials, 52% of Gen X’s, and 21% of Boomers. Looking at results by region shows that over 60% of prospective buyers in the Northeast and South are buying a home for the first time. The share is above 55% in the Midwest and West.

In terms of the type of home these prospective home buyers are interested in, 40% are looking to buy an existing home and 24% a newly-built home. The remaining 37% would buy either a new or existing home.

* The Housing Trends Report is a research product created by the NAHB Economics team with the goal of measuring prospective home buyers’ perceptions about the availability and affordability of homes for-sale in their markets. The HTR is produced quarterly to track changes in buyers’ perceptions over time. All data are derived from national polls of representative samples of American adults conducted for NAHB by Morning Consult. Results are not seasonally adjusted due to the short-time horizon of the series, and therefore only year-over-year comparisons are statistically valid. A description of the poll’s methodology and sample characteristics can be found here. This is the first in a series of five posts highlighting results for the second quarter of 2020.



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